There are few things better than getting paid to travel so whenever I get a story assignment that involves this task, I can't help but love my chosen profession a little bit more. Although it is only an hour from my home, I was excited to go to Columbia, Mo. (my beloved college town!) for the day to work on a piece about the historic Tiger Hotel located in the lively downtown district. The hotel, which opened its doors in 1928, has been undergoing extensive renovations for the last two years and things are finally nearing completion. The nine story building sat empty for a few years before the current restoration project, so there was a lot to do to get it in top shape. Now, the Tiger is a luxury boutique hotel that is on par with offerings in bigger cities like Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City. I met the hotel's developer, Glyn Laverick, for lunch at the Velvet Cupcake, the hotel's in-house bakery. My meal consisted of a large crab cake and a side salad, both of which were fresh, flavorful and presented beautifully. In addition to lunch, the bakery serves breakfast all day, Starbucks coffee, and sweets such as specialty cupcakes, cookies and bon bons.
After lunch, Laverick gave me a tour of the hotel's guestrooms which include an assortment of standard rooms and suites. The rooms are outfitted with the latest in technology such as touch screen digital signage on every door and motorized blinds. The high-end details include granite countertops, air-masseur jetted Jacuzzi tubs and complimentary toiletries from luxury brand Molton Brown of London. The true showpiece of the hotel is the amazing, panoramic views of the city that guests can enjoy from their rooms.
Beyond the accommodations and bakery, the hotel also features a sophisticated speakeasy, The Vault, on the lower level that is known for its hip atmosphere, creative cocktails and menu items you can't get anywhere else in town such as Poutine, a Canadian favorite that consists of veal gravy and cheese curds on handcut fries--I tried this snack on a trip to Toronto, and while it might sound odd, it is actually very delicious! As a patron of The Vault prior to this assignment, I can attest that it is a welcome "grown-up" nightlife option in a city filled with bars and clubs that tend to cater more to the early-20's college crowd. Plans are in the works to open a seafood and steak restaurant in the hotel that would distinguish itself from the competition with a raw bar of fresh oysters flown in daily from Maine. Laverick even mentioned the possibility of a rooftop patio being added onto the building in the spring or summer. The hotel's Grand Ballroom is a popular venue for parties, weddings and other special events. Another thing to note in the hotel is the original fixtures that were able to be saved. Throughout the hotel there are stunning antique chandeliers, and the lobby's ornate columns have been restored to their former glory.
Before departing the multifaceted Tiger Hotel property, I returned to the bakery to get some of its signature cupcakes for the road. I selected the triple chocolate, tiramisu, red velvet and chocolate chip cookie dough. The flavors change daily, so cupcake fanatics will get their fill at this establishment. The Tiger Hotel is an impressive re-entry into the Columbia hospitality scene. I hope that it will be a successful venture that becomes a destination for both visitors and locals.
My full story on the Tiger Hotel will be published in the Summer 2013 issue of Lake of the Ozarks Second Home Living magazine. View more photos from my visit to the Tiger Hotel on Instagram (@pnmmedia) and on PNM Media's Facebook page.
Hello! I am Porcshe N. Moran. My nearly two decades of professional experience covers print and digital journalism as well as strategic communications, content marketing and copywriting.